In her first policy speech of the presidential campaign, Gov. Sarah Palin vowed Friday that a McCain administration would allow all special-needs students the choice of attending private schools at public expense, a controversial and potentially costly proposal likely to be welcomed by many parents and bitterly opposed by many school districts.
Ms. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, also promised that she and Senator John McCain would finally provide public schools the federal money that was promised when the law covering students with special needs was passed in 1975. Her pledge was intended to address the top concern of many school districts, and is one that has been made by many other politicians but never fulfilled.
The policy speech was a departure for Ms. Palin, whose métier is the kind of foot-stomping pep rally she headlined the night before, at a stop north of Pittsburgh, where she recalled an anecdote about “Joe the quarterback” — as in Namath, a local native — to “guarantee” that she and Mr. McCain would come from behind to win.
In a hotel meeting room before about 150 parents and children with special needs, Ms. Palin was more subdued, and departed slightly from her prepared remarks to speak of her fears when she learned that the baby she was carrying earlier this year would have Down syndrome.
The Madison School District spent $70,582,539 on Special Education, according to the 2007/2008 Amended Budget (,a href=”http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/pdf/2008/10/2007_MMSD_BOE_Amended_Budgetocr.pdf”>460K PDF). Total budget was $365,248,476 according to the same document.